Dawn Callers

Alberto Ríos

The dawn callers and morning bringers,
I hear them as they intend themselves to be heard,

Quick sonic sparks in the morning dark,
Hard at the first work of building the great fire.

The soloist rooster in the distance,
The cheeping wrens, the stirring, gargling pigeons,

Getting ready for the work of a difficult lifetime,
The first screet of the peahen in the far field,

All of it a great tag-of-sounds game engaging even the owls,
The owls with their turned heads and everything else that is animal.

Then, too, the distant thunder of the garbage truck,
That lumbering urban whale.

Through it all, the mourning doves say
There, there—which is to say, everything is all right.

I believe them. They have said this to me ever since childhood.
I hear them. I hear them and I get up.

Alberto Álvaro Ríos is the author of 10 books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories, and a memoir. His books of poems include, most recently, “The Dangerous Shirt,” along with “The Theater of Night,” winner of the 2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Award, “The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body,” finalist for the National Book Award, “Teodoro Luna’s Two Kisses,” “The Lime Orchard Woman,” “The Warrington Poems,” “Five Indiscretions,” and “Whispering to Fool the Wind,” which won the Walt Whitman Award. His three collections of short stories are, most recently, “The Curtain of Trees,” along with “Pig Cookies” and The Iguana Killer,” which won the first Western States Book Award for Fiction, judged by Robert Penn Warren. His memoir about growing up on the Mexico-Arizona border, called “Capirotada,” won the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award and was designated the OneBookArizona choice for 2009. Ríos is a Regents Professor at Arizona State University, where he has taught since 1982 and where he holds the further distinction of the Katharine C. Turner Endowed Chair in English.  In 2013, he was designated the inaugural Arizona Poet Laureate, and in 2014 was elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets. He was appointed director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at ASU in 2017.